TERRE HAUTE — A new group, DHK Promotions LLC, is doing all it can to turn things around at the Terre Haute Action Track.
During a Friday newsconference, the Brian Dorsett, Indy Racing League driver Davey Hamilton and Mike King-led group, announced the opening race on the Action Track schedule is the Clabber Girl Don Smith Classic presented by Indiana State University.
Smith, the chairman of First Financial Corporation and longtime promoter of the Action Track during its prime in the 1960s, was caught off guard by the announcement of a race in his honor.
“I’m very excited. In fact, I was floored when they named the race for me. I thought you had to be deceased before they do that,” Smith said.
Smith is thrilled to see the ambitious trio of promoters take over at the historic track, which has been host to Indy 500 winners such as A.J. Foyt and more recently to NASCAR stars such as Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon.
The Tribune-Star reported in early January that Dorsett, Hamilton and King were to take over promotions at the track, ending one of the most disappointing era’s in track history that saw the United States Auto Club sever its ties with then-promoter Dave Allison in mid-2007.
DHK Promotions signed a three-year contract Friday with the Wabash Valley Fair Board.
King, the radio voice of the Indy 500 and the IncyCar Series, got his start at the Action Track. King has resided in Terre Haute for 23 years. King will return to the broadcast booth in Terre Haute for the season-opening Don Smith Classic.
“If it weren’t for the Terre Haute Action Track, I wouldn’t be the voice of the Indy 500 and the IndyCar series,” King said. “This is an opportunity to pay back to the community. We’ll do what we can to put Terre Haute back on the national motorsports map.”
Dorsett, a former major league baseball player and successful Terre Haute businessmen, will handle the business side of the operation. One new sponsor is Tom Dever of Dever Distributing, making Budweiser the official beer at the track.
“Mike King spearheaded this vision,” Dorsett said. “I have a lot of special memories of going to races as a kid. I want to bring back the pride to the Terre Haute Action Track.”
Hamilton, who finished seventh in the 2007 Indianapolis 500, will work with national racing bodies such as USAC and more regional operations such as Tim Wolfe of Wolfpack Promotions.
The new slogan for the track is “Where every race is a classic.” There will not be more than one organization racing on one night as was the case in the past. It’s also a change in philosophy to heavily promote the six races on the schedule rather than trying to have weekly race cards.
King emphasized that fans will be in their cars and on their way home by 10:30 p.m. on race night, a contrast to past seasons where races ran late into the night and which caused a race card in May 2007 to be abandoned due to a curfew violation. Races this season will be broadcast by Crossroads Communications on WBOW-AM and WSDX-AM in addition to WSDM-FM.
2008 Action Track Schedule
May 2 — Clabber Girl Don Smith Classic presented by Indiana State University
May 22 — First Financial Bank Tony Hulman Classic presented by Budweiser
July 4 — Wolfe’s Auto Auction “Run with the Pack Classic” featuring the O’Reilly All-Star Circuit of Champions
July 23 — First Financial Bank SUMAR Classic presented by Union Hospital and 500 Express
Sept. 12 — Monster Energy Modified Classic presented by MacAllister Machinery
Oct. 4 — First Financial Bank Hut Hundred presented by Dorsett Mitsubishi